On the 7th and 8th of August 2018, another outreach programme was organized by Danau Girang Field Centre to Kg. Entilibon, Tongod, Telupid. Our BSBCC Team was one of the collaborators along with other organizations which included Hutan-KOCP, Wildlife Rescue Unit and Sabah Wildlife Department. This programme was organized in efforts to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of conserving our nature and wildlife especially those that are on the brink of extinction. The targeted audiences were school-youths, workers and communities in the area where two schools were visited which are SK Entilibon and SMK Entilibon. Various approaches were used as inputs in this programme which included talks, educational booths, quizzes and interactive games from each participating agencies for the students. The response was great as the students participated in each activities enthusiastically while the teachers showed immense support throughout the programme. Special thanks to the organizing committee, other collaborating agencies and also to the schools for their cooperation and warm hospitality.
Text by Seng Yen Wah Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Romolina has just finished her 30 day submission to quarantine! She is settling in well at BSBCC. A full body check-up has been conducted by Dr.Nabila Sarkawi who is a veterinarian from Sabah Wildlife Department. Based on the growth condition of her teeth, we found out she is an estimated age of six months instead of four months old. This is because some of her current teeth which have grown through recently, are now permanent and her adult teeth. Romolina was found alone in the forest before being kept as a pet at Romol Village, Sapulut, in the interior division of Sabah, where she lived her life in a small cage. She was rescued by Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting, who had found out that a villager was keeping Romolina as a pet. They intended to rescue her so they negotiated with the villager who agreed to hand the young cub over to them. The villager said that he/she had kept Romolina for a duration of roughly three months and fed her sausages, porridge and fruits. The improper diet caused Romolina to have a smaller body size. Now that she is being fed a proper, nutritious diet in the care of BSBCC and she now weighs 8.8kg.
Romolina seems to be attached to humans. When the caretakers are not around, she will suckle and vocalize to seek comfort and safety. Romolina had lost her mother bear, therefore we now have keepers as her surrogate mother. What can the surrogate mother do? Keepers will spend time and play fight with her. Play fighting could teach her how to defend herself. Defence skills is one of the most important survival skills for the bear’s natural rainforest habitats, which can protect themselves from predators. Besides the companionship from the keepers, Romalina has also been introduced to many types of enrichments to use throughout her days. Enrichment is a common name for the bears TOYs which can stimulate the action of natural behaviours that we would observe in non-captive Sunbears. Romolina is having different enrichments from day to day! But, her favourite toy is the warm, soft and comfy towel! Romolina is a detailed explorer. She will spend a lot of time exploring the enrichments made for her. Thanks to the care taker, Jeniur who made her a circle platform. She loves to sleep up there. Before sleeping Romalina will adjust and fidget until she finds the perfect spot to fall asleep and snooze like a baby!
Romolina is a curious bear who explores her environment through continuous sniffing. She loves milk and also loves to keep the milk on her body, by soaking her body in the milk tray. But she does not enjoy her body being too wet and fur remaining damp. Romolina is a good climber. She always climbs up and down to search and explore her environment. She is always very observant to her current surroundings and will keep checking and watching events that happen around her.
Romolina has lacked a mother’s love since young age, which makes her feel insecure. The way to help her is integrating her with other bears; making a bear friend can allow them to learn from each other and spend time together. The best enrichment of a bear is another bear! We are looking forward to the integration between her and her bear friend Logan, and hope they will get along well. The cute and lovely friendship is already starting to form between these two little bears. Please stay tuned for the updates to the start of this wonderful friendship! With the help of her friend Logan, the care of keepers and the love from you all, we hope Romolina will grow to into a real bear!
Text by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher Photos by Jessamine Thong Jiah Kher, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
HI WORLD!~~ (with a very high pitch voice) hahhaha Ok… that’s a bit annoying, sorry…
Anyways, hi! I’m Jessamine Thong who is taking a Diploma in Animal Health and Production programme in the University Putra Malaysia Kampus Bintulu, Sarawak (UPMKB) and I’m here to share this my journey of undergoing an internship in BSBCC.
To be honest, I had no idea bears even existed in Malaysia before working with BSBCC and right on the first day, the friendliest team of bear care coordinators fed me all the facts on sun bears, and I was quite lost, but well, we learn don’t we?
So, my internship lasted for 2 and a half months and well, it was unexpectedly wonderful! Sun Bears! Wow! Why not?! They are Beautiful! But what really made BSBCC beautiful is how the staff and volunteers really care. Let’s get on with my adventure shall we? Well, if you’re undergoing a volunteer programme or an internship, the centre would always assign a buddy to you! Having a buddy is a wonderful idea as it feels like you have someone that can be close to you when you’re new. They would be like an additional family member that you never knew of! They’ll teach you, guide you and take the fullest care of you during your time there. So who’s my buddy? Well, it’s the legendary senior bear keeper DAVID TAHIR. He taught me a lot from the first day I came, until the day I left. From cleaning cages to making creative enrichments, there’s just nothing he can’t do. Best buddy ever!
I had learnt a lot thanks to you David, my buddy!
What did I like most, during the whole internship? Well, if I had to choose… it’s definitely going to be building enrichments! Yup, building is so much FUN! And the feeling of achievement after you have finished and knowing that the bear really enjoyed their new play equipment, there were just no words to describe the joy that I felt.
Well, I love building things and thanks for involving me on building these wonderful enrichments!
There was lots of events going on during my time there, and one of the favourite was of course, SUN BEAR DAY (16 May 2018) – Making a lot of enrichments and also getting involved in giving visitors a good old hands-on experience in making these enrichments.
Bjorn Hala – ‘Bear Home’ This is actually a house where the staffs and volunteers live during their time here. This brings me back to the first day I’ve arrived. Andy, the ‘manager’ of Bjorn Hala: I’m so sorry that my bag was super heavy, I’ve no idea what made it that heavy but thanks for helping me with it! And also the Bjorn Hala family, thanks for welcoming me warmly, and make me feel at home.
-Bojrn Hala Family portrait – From the left, Mizuno, Andy, Wawa, Becca, Jasmine, Jessamine and Jeniur
- Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Family – Dr. Wong’s and his wonderful team of ‘Sun Bears’
Some bears in BSBCC
All the bears and people I have met here, as well as all the love and care they shared, the food they fed, the unexpected experience they gave me, are unreplaceable and memories I will hold forever. Thanks for taking me out on so many adventures and this unforgettable experience. That’s quite all from me. Curious on what made my internship so unique? Just come here and experience what I had, what all the other volunteers and interns had, then you’ll know, why it’s gonna be one of the best part of your life. Trust me, there will be no regrets!
The BSBCC team visited 5 schools located at the Tenom district in Sabah for an education and awareness programme. The outreach programme organized by NGO, HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme in partnership with Sabah Wildlife Department and BSBCC aimed to raise awareness on the important needs to protect the environment and wildlife within the state of Sabah. More than 1000 students, teachers and school administrative staff were reached throughout the 5-day programme. The organizing team were glad to have support from each schools and hope participants gained bountiful knowledge on environmental and wildlife protection in Sabah.
BSBCC is very delighted to be the collaborator for the Sun Bear Hero Programme organized by Maktab Rendah Sains MARA Tun Mohammad Fuad Stephens (MRSM Sandakan), where the activities were mainly conducted by their students themselves. Our Environmental Education unit officers has also given some information on the sun bears and insights about the centre by giving presentations, setting up exhibition booth, and running several mini activities. It was a great effort by the school for their Sustainability Development Goal 2030 project which focuses on Goal 15 (Life on Land), with their main objective this year is to get funding for the centre while sowing and increase the awareness of students on the importance to care and conserve the environment through the Kahoot challenge, Minecraft Education Edition, Digital Story with Microsoft Sawy, and #MyVoice#SavetheSunBear campaign. At least 200 students which includes 10 primary schools were involved in the Sun Bear Hero Education Programme. Charity Night Market (or Tamu Gadang Amal) were also organized by MRSM for the night session, where the profits were contributed for our share bear adoption programme: little Miss Kitud. An adoption gimmick was also done after some student performances and speeches from all respective parties involved.
Text by Jonas Bolin Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hello! My name is Jonas Bolin and I am 18 years old and live in Sweden. I am right now studying to become an animal keeper and will graduate this spring. I was one of the lucky few to get the opportunity to do my internship at bsbcc which I am so grateful for. This trip was going to be the biggest adventure of my life and I could not be more excited about it. However, this was one of the most incredible journeys I have ever imagined and I was planning to gather so much experience.
I am right now at the end of my internship at bsbcc which of course is very sad, but when I look back at my time here I could not resist to smile. These five weeks has been so incredible and I have earned more experience than I could imagine. However, the first two weeks was mostly focused of learning the routines for me. It is always so many new things to learn wherever you go and when they told me to learn all the bears names and identify them I thought they were crazy. I thought it would be hard enough to learn the names of the staff. But after the first two weeks I started to learn all the different behaviours and the characteristic things among the bears, which was a pretty cool feeling if you ask me. But all this was thanks to all the keepers that had patience with me and told me that we learn by mistakes which made me try until I succeeded. It is so inspiring to see all these hard working people and see how much they care for Sun bears. They have taught me a lot about Sun bears and its importance to the ecosystem here in Borneo and what we have to do to make sure they can survive in the wild. I cannot thank these guys enough and I wish them the best of luck in the future because they are some of the best people I have met in my hole life. One moment I will remember for a long time is meeting the founder of bsbcc Dr. Wong Siew Te. He is such an inspiring man who care so much for the animals and their environment. I have a feeling that he has started something big that will lead to a new level of animal caretaking in many places of the world.
So during my weeks I have as I said gathered so much experience. I have so much work experience which I will bring me for my whole life and my future carer. What is more is that I have gathered even more life experience during this trip which has made me a new person, I can handle so much more than I thought before. I will use all this experience my whole life and make sure to always remember this adventure. But most of all I will remember all the friends I have found down here, even if we cannot make sure that we will see each other again I will always have them in my mind. Of course I will miss the bears as well and they will always have a special place in my heart.
So this adventure was not what I was expecting, it was so much better. I will therefor thank BCBCC and APE Malaysia for making this dream come true. I will miss everything so much and I am really looking forward to see what this centre can become in 10 more years.
Little Romolina is a six months old female sun bear cub who was kept in a small cage as a house pet at Kampung Romol, Sapulut, Sabah.
The owner claimed that they found the cub alone in the forest and he had kept her in his house. We believed that Romolina’s mom was killed in order to take the cub from the forest. Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting got knowledge about this cub and quickly helped save her from the villager by negotiating with him to hand over the cub. She was immediately handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department then sent to BSBCC and placed into quarantine on the same day on July 7th, 2018. During the arrival, she was tiny and weighed 5.95 kg. She was suffering from severe malnutrition. The owner fed Romolina rice, cereals, sausages, fruits and no milk was given to her. She was also being confined in a small cage which restricted her growth. The name “Romolina” was given by the person who rescued her. She was named after the Romol village where she was rescued from.
Romolina is the youngest female sun bear cub at BSBCC. She is kept under close observation around the clock by bear care staff in quarantine.
She was subsequently found to be malnourished and showed signs of stunted growth. Consequently, her claws and teeth appeared too big for her tiny body as a result from an unbalanced diet.
Little by little she has grown to know that she is in a safe place. She adapted really well to her new environment.
During these two weeks she has gained more weight. She has a good appetite but is choosy in accepting a diet of fruits and vegetables. She loves watermelon and Honey!
Little Romolina enjoys playing with enrichment toys.
The enrichment plays a vital role in encouraging Little Romolina – to be a sun bear again! She gets really curious and stands on both her hind legs then gets excited about it! Romolina will use her long sharp claws to tear and destroy the enrichment. She always shows curiosity in new toys and treats where she will learn to dig, climb and destroy the enrichment!
She learns climbing too. She will climb up to the basket or sleeping platform or when there are treats around. As a sun bear cub she will spends most of the day sleeping on the ground or hammock platform.
She is just enjoying her new found second chance of freedom.
Poor Romolina had been kept confined in a cage alone for a long period. It can be seen that she has a habit of sucking her front left paw or rubbing her back near care takers, and she vocalizes to seek comfort and safety. She shows more attachment to humans and appears tame. She needs special care and attention. She should still be with her mother learning how to survive in the forest.
Slowly, Romolina will learn to trust the new environment and put her past behind her. It was truly a blessing when watching Romolina grow more confident and healthy. Please speak up against the illegal pet trade and protect them from extinction!
Found abandoned near Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah and kept in a cage for three months as a house pet. He was then surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 19th of May, 2018. Every year, orphaned sun bears are rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department or are surrendered by local people. Sun bear cubs are targeted for the illegal pet trade, hunted for food or used in traditional medicine. It is believed that their mother will be killed so that the poacher can snatch the bear cub. In the wild, sun bear cubs will spend the first two to three years of their lives with their mom. Without his mother to teach him the skills he needs, the sun bear becomes incapable of being released back into the wild and they must rely on our rehabilitation support.
Logan was found alone in the forest and then kept as a pet. But he is in safe hands now and settling in well at BSBCC
The rehabilitation process after his arrival starts with strong bonding with his surrogate mother (bear care taker), where he slowly gains trust, strength and can be a wild bear again. The surrogate mother then will be assisting in daily walks in the forest with the bear cub to give them a second chance to learn all of the skills needed to survive in the forest.
The youngest male sun bear cub, Logan has settled happily into his new life. You can see how much little Logan has grown in that time and how chubby he is now with a weight of 15.10 kg.
With a beautiful yellow sun bear little crescent chest mark
This brave bear that has lost his mother endured a lifetime of suffering in captivity and has never known the wild freedom he was born to have. On the 7th of June 2018, Logan finally felt the sunshine and grass under his little paws again!
Logan will get to play in the forest, learn to forage, climb trees and explore the forest. He learns to trust every day. The surrogate mother is helping little Logan to learn just how to be a wild bear!
Learn to be wild bear again!
Day by day it is such a blissful time in the morning, he knows when we are going to start walking him in the forest. He will quickly climb down from his basket and without hesitation he will run into the dense forest. He is developing very well and showing great progress with his forest skills.
No surprise – he is always busy foraging and filling his tummy! Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores. For Logan, he loves to dig by using his sharp curved claws and strong teeth in search his favourite wild food - termites, ants, insects, pill millipedes and bird carcasses. When he finds something for his own, he is very happy about it! Sometimes Logan will stand up on his hind legs to get a better smell or view of something that attracted his attention.
Busy Logan! Finding favorite food
Logan digs into decayed wood with his long claws
Lots of yummy food to find here!!
Now for some foraging
Logan checks a dead log for termites
Logan is licking ants off the tree
Yummy! Bird Carcass!
Favourite Termite Mounds! He uses his sharp claws and teeth to break the termite mounds
Favourite Termite Mounds! He uses his sharp claws and teeth to break the termite mounds
Logan was missing his left thumb and his left front paw has developed abnormally, but these have never made give him up and he is always full of enthusiasm climbing trees. He loves to learn new skills and develops his small muscles every day! He is an agile climber where he uses his powerful legs, feet with hairless soles and sharp claws to climb the tree. Right after foraging he will choose a tree he loves and climb it. He learns the way to climb trees or liana and just enjoys the beautiful sun view! He is so brave! He always wants to make the most of what he has got! Only sometimes he will easily get tired after he tries to climb too many trees.
His true ability and agile shine through when up in the tree canopy where he belongs
Once out to the forest, he quickly climbs up into the trees
Excellent at climbing!
Explore my new HOME in the dense rainforest
He does a balancing act on the small branch!
He is determined to make the best of his life !!
Logan is comfy on Liana
He is so brave. He always wants to make the most of what he has got
How to stay COOL on tree!!
Logan have an incredible sense of smell!
When he gets excited roaming the forest he will start to play fight and wrestle with his surrogate mother. He loves to play with anything and everything.
He absolutely loved it- he will rolling and running around!
He is a very active little bear! He knows the way to the stream and enjoys dipping, chilling in the stream or laying his snout deep in the water to beat the hot weather! Logan takes great pleasure enjoying his freedom each day in the forest.
Nothing feels BEST than a dip in the stream
For little Logan, his newfound freedom has meant to him: tearing decayed wood, finding his favourite food such as termites, sun bathing, and soaking in the stream. We cannot wait to see the next challenge he has to learn to grow every day.
He is a cheeky and intelligent bear to enjoy all things in the forest
How relaxed and comfortable can a cub be
Laze on the forest floor
Logan take a nap
Looking at these pictures, it is hard believe he is a huge part of the forest life now and is also catching his daily experience in life. Watching him is like watching any bear cubs in the wild!
He looks so at ease outside the forest
Miss my mum to venture together in the forest
Little Logan learn to trust and realize life with Tall trees, grass, insects, macaques at the forest
Logan will adapt well to life as a WILD sun bear and slowly he learns to leave his past as a pet behind him